The Truth About Promotional Products

  • Jan 10, 2014

Let's face it - we're in a new world of marketing. The traditional channels of the Mad Men era have been supplemented by multiple new digital channels. We're bombarded with marketing messages everywhere we turn - some reports say up to 3000 messages a day! Who can really pay attention to them?

Well, some who are immersed in this digital world (can you say "millennials"?) say that's all advertisers need. As an extreme example, SAP blogger Todd Wilms wrote a post titled The Sad Death of the Beloved Tchotchke. The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), while noting the humorous tone of the article, doesn't quite see things the same way. As we say frequently in this newsletter, it's not about the product, it's about its effectiveness. With that said, here's the guest article by PPAI president Paul Bellantone:

Promotional Products Association International 

Todd, please allow me to present a somewhat different view of promotional products — perhaps one you’ve never considered — in support of the ‘beloved tchotchke,’ a.k.a. promotional product.

An imprinted t-shirt raises more than $7,000 for a teenager battling cancer and unites a community around hope. On a winter day in New York, imprinted blankets distributed to the homeless transform into messages of hope, caring and community. A key chain with a whistle handed out to students at a self-defense class becomes an empowering tool. A t-shirt given to children at a summer outdoor program is a memorable, functional keepsake. When the shirt is decorated with the phone number to call if the child is lost, the imprinted shirt becomes a prudent safety precaution.

An imprinted t-shirt, blanket, a functional key chain—they help save lives. They create community. They stir hope and purpose. They have an undeniable, beneficial impact on our world.

The items you perceive as obsolete are anything but. The truth is this form of advertising is stronger than ever. In fact, some of the salient points raised in your post are exactly why promotional products are one of the most effective, cost-efficient and longest-lasting media used by advertisers, marketers, social media aficionados and SAP. Compared to other media, promotional products are the sixth fastest-growing advertising medium, ranking eighth among traditional and digital media in annual expenditures at $18.5 billion.

To savvy advertisers and marketers, promotional products are the secret weapon in the marketing arsenal because they are the only tangible advertising medium with the ability to deliver a touchable, taste-able, see-able, hear-able and smell-able sensory engagement—the total brand experience. More importantly, promotional products are the only advertising for which consumers say, “Thank you!”

The message is pretty clear, when used as part of an integrated advertising strategy or as a standalone medium, promotional products deliver some pretty impressive results.

We couldn’t agree more with the message on the SAP merchandise site: “All products’ function, design or benefit are linked to how we want to be perceived as a company. This shop provides products that convey the strength of the SAP brand, that will inspire and enhance a true sense of belonging. Enjoy!”

When professionally designed and produced, and used as part of a strategic plan, promotional products generate interest, action, sales, referrals and loyalty — in short, results. These results distinguish them as one of the most effective and arguably the longest-lasting and best-loved advertising medium in the world.

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